Posts Tagged ‘heavy metal’
I had seen Venomous Maximus at least 6 or 7 times before finally putting ears to any of their studio work. They are always a treat live. Super solid, energetic and G. Lee Higgins is the right person to front this band that calls Houston, TX its home.
A few weeks back at a show I bought their latest release, Beg Upon the Light. It took me almost 2 weeks to finally get around to listening to it and now I feel like I have wasted 2 weeks! I had to drive to Houston and back this week (2.5 hours each way) and listened to this 3 times on the drive. Oh my!
This album is very well-produced. I guess they are considered “stoner/doom” metal. I hear so much more classic metal sounds that came from Metal Blade and other classic labels. I hear elements of Tyrant, Damien Thorne, Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath and Cirith Ungol.
Higgins’ voice may take some time for folks to get used to. I, for one, think they’re perfect for the band. There’s no death growl that is so rampant in the stoner/doom genre these days. His voice is clean and clear and typically lower than most metal singers today. Think King Diamond’s low vocals with Mercyful Fate with a little more “umph” behind them or maybe even those from early Moonspell (Wolfheart). He has a really good sorrowful wail to his style.
The rest of band is spot on with their delivery. I especially like Christian’s solos (I always want more solos!). His solo intro on Path of Doom is such a beautiful nod to Mercyful Fate. Bongo and Trevi round out the rhythm section perfectly.
Favorite tracks would be Path of Doom, Battle for the Cross, Hell’s Heroes and Moonchild.
I highly recommend this album and so far I’d call it my favorite album of 2012. 10/10. Go see them live!
Every year at SxSW I get exposed to some bands that I may have missed otherwise. This year I got to see Holy Grail, Hull and OFF!. I missed Pallbearer but have been listening to them since.
Holy Grail – good retro US metal from San Fran. they kicked ass live
Pallbearer – tasteful doom, really loving this band
Hull – the vocals could be better, but i like their riffs
OFF! – featuring keith morris on vocals (black flag, circle jerks)
Mutilation Rites – i dislike most black metal beyond some classic bathory and such, but i enjoyed these guys live
Austin’s metal scene was a bit lacking when I moved here 5 years ago. San Antonio has always been the metal capital of Texas but I think Austin has been picking it up a bit in the last few years. While we’re still not getting Maiden, Priest, Scorpions and other big headliners like that, we’re still getting a steady stream of smaller acts. Megadeth has come regularly and Motorhead always comes. Luckily I get to see them together this coming weekend for Gigantour 2012.
Emo’s has been pretty consistent for bringing good metal since I’ve been here. Now that they’ve moved to a bigger venue on the east side, they’ve been doing their due diligence and booking decent shows.
Last night was Symphony X/Iced Earth/Warbringer.
Warbringer opened up and I am indifferent about them. Solid retro-thrash, but not bringing anything new to the table. Like I said last night, “they’re just ripping off Testament.”
I once was a huge Iced Earth fan, then they released Something Wicked This Way Comes and I was out. I’ve tried listening to all of their albums and they’ve never got me back. I saw them in 1999 and filmed it. You can see the entire show on Youtube. They picked up another singer recently, Stu Block, who used to be in Into Eternity. The band was solid, as expected. Jon Schaffer makes sure he’s got good players in his band. They played 3 or 4 older songs and sounded good and the new stuff they played sounded fine. Stu has a really good and clean high range, but his “normal” voice is a bit too much like Matt Barlow, minus the Hetfield-ah! tendencies that Matt had. Whoever their lead player is these days is pretty good. One annoying note, I really hate the crowd participation songs and they did it in over hald their set. “hey hey hey hey!” Ugh.
I saw Symphony X in 2000 at L’Amours in New York when they opened for Halford. I thought they were good, but just not my cup of tea. I like a handful of tracks from their first 3 records, but prefer to hear them on CD than live. All very talented guys. I left after their first song.
This year was probably one of the most influential years for me as far as music goes. One big reason is that I got my driver’s license that year and my first job (bagging groceries). Not that I was making much money at it for a summer job, but it kept gas in my car and allowed me to buy records and tapes a little more freely. It also afforded me a way to continue to add to my drum set.
Another thing that was a big musical influence that year was a guy I went to high school with that I met later in 1986 (junior year). Through him and his friends I found a lot more stuff that I may have overlooked otherwise. For that guy and a small group of his friends, I am eternally grateful. That dude and I were best friends for our last 2 years of school and for a few years after. But over time we lost touch and began to run in different circles. And that’s ok, it happens.
Thankfully we did a lot of tape trading back then. No way could I afford buying all of these making $3.35/hr!
So much music in that year though, so many great releases. Let’s just cover a few (not in order of importance).
- Slayer – Reign in Blood. Quite possibly one of the biggest albums for me and definitely the biggest one for me in 1986. I didn’t really care for Slayer that much until I heard this one. Truly a game changer in thrash/speed metal. No one other than maybe Gene Hoglan was playing drums to that level in metal.
- Metallica – Master of Puppets. I loved this when it came out, but not as much as Ride the Lightning. I went years upon years without listening to it and finally spun it again recently. Lots of good memories sitting in the parking lot before church with my pals jamming to this.
- Megadeth – Peace Sells. My oh my. This one may be bigger for me than Reign in Blood. I’ve lamented more than once on this website how much I love this album. It still gets plenty of airtime with me.
- Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time. Thanks to Unicorn Records I got this a few days before it came out officially. I remember calling my friend Chris and playing it for him over the phone. Good times. Great album and the last of their run of great albums in my opinion.
- Dark Angel – Darkness Descends. Raw…Brutal…Power. Gene Hoglan’s under-produced drums still powered through.
- Fates Warning – Awaken the Guardian. Oh my. Another of the big ones for me that year. I had been into Fates since first hearing Night on Brocken but this album was…erm…is such a masterpiece. Arch’s vocal melodies and harmonies, the songwriting in general, the production…it is a perfect record from front to back. When I met Frank Aresti a few months ago, he stated that the new album with Arch will be a good follow-up to Guardian. Let’s hope!
- Crimson Glory – S/T. A prog classic. Not too many folks were singing like Midnight nor had many bands starting trying to emulate early Queensryche like these guys did.
- Metal Church – The Dark. This is an album that kicked me in the teeth from the first note. I love Metal Church and can never place which of the first 3 is my favorite.
- Flotsam & Jetsam – Doomsday for the Deceiver. Another thrash classic. I highly recommend the reissue that came out a few years ago. The sound is amazing.
- Queensryche – Rage for Order. While this album was not as great as Warning, it’s a worthwhile release, and for me the last one I like. Sorry Mindcrime fans, I’m out.
- Fifth Angel – S/T. One of the most underrated albums in metal. Not too fast, not too slow. Great vocals and guitar work. tastefully written and played metal.
- Omen – The Curse. Omen releases another perfect album. Period. Sure, Battle Cry and Warning of Danger may have been better, but this one stayed on course for them. Teeth of the Hydra!
- Nuclear Assault – Game Over. This was my introduction to Nuclear Assault. While I didn’t play it a lot, it got some rotation. I’m pretty sure I got this as a dubbed tape from a friend as I don’t remember actually owning it.
- Sword – Metalized. Great effort from these Canadians. Their follow-up? Not so much.
- Hallows Eve – Death and Insanity. I love this album. It’s thrash in its simplest form. It wasn’t until a week ago that I realized they were and east coast band (GA). It’s a fun album.
- Damien – Every Dog Has Its Day. Another great record that never got its due.
- Cinderella – Night Songs. Bought it by recommendation right when it came out. Sold it a week later. WTF was this trash? About 10 years ago I gave it another spin and now I like it. I didn’t care much for the hairband phase of the 80s.
- Yngwie Malmsteen – Trilogy. I saw this tour when they opened for Triumph. I was already a fan but didn’t care much for this album. Going from Jeff Scott Soto to Mark Boals was a huge change, plus the production value on the album is lacking. It took some years, but I finally got to where it’s one of my favorites by Yngwie.
- Loudness – Lightning Strikes. Man oh man I have listened to this album 100s of times since 1986. It’s my favorite by Loudness by far. Just great all the way through.
- Ozzy – The Ultimate Sin. I like this album a lot, even with the primarily goofy Ozzy lyrics. Jake was great even though the production of this album sucked.
- Zebra – 3.V. My favorite by these NOLA/NYC rockers. I still listen to it quite often and was fortunate enough to catch this tour with Alcatrazz (post Yngie/Vai) and Rough Cutt.
- Lizzy Borden – Menace to Society. Again, terrible production of a great album. This one gets more play than any of their others.
- Battlezone – Fighting Back. Dianno’s solo band. Their first 2 releases are wonderful and I’m so glad I got to see them live.
- Angus – Track of Doom. One of the guys from my school gave this to me as a birthday gift. Thanks Duane! Great Swedish power metal.
- Damien Thorne – Sign of the Jackal. Just find it and buy it. You won;t be disappointed.
- Obsession – Scarred for Life. This is another one of those albums that sits on top for me. Countless days and nights spent listening to this and playing drums to it. It’s a perfect album.
- Triumph – Sport of Kings. Easily in my top 2 favorite Triumph albums. Sure it was a little more poppy, but it’s a great record. Another great tour that I caught.
- Cerebus – Too Late To Pray. While I loved this back then, it leaves me flat now.
- Purgatory – Tied to the Trax. Heard this one through a friend. Awesome album.
- CJSS – Praise the Loud. Some of Chastain’s finest work.
- TT Quick – Metal of Honor. Another great and underrated record. Buy it.
There are a lot more great albums that came out that year that I didn’t hear until later like King Diamond’s Fatal Portrait and Anthem’s Tightrope. That’s why they aren’t mentioned above. Many in the list up there still get played on a regular basis and with good cause. I guess it can be said that in some ways, I am stuck in 1986…and I make no apologies for it!
I love Loudness. That is to say that I love classic era Loudness. Everything between Birthday Eve(1981) and the Jealousy EP (1988) and a few songs from Solder of Fortune (1989) and On the Prowl (1991). After Minoru left and after his replacement (Mike Vescera) left, I was done. I didn’t care for EZO and having their singer in the band just didn’t work for me. Even after Minoru’s return to the band in 2001 for the Spiritual Canoe album, I was rather disinterested in their modern sound. No matter, when they did their small USA tour in 2006, I was there.
When I found out that they were coming to Texas this year, I was pretty excited and got my tickets immediately when they went on sale. It wasn’t until the day of the show that I found out that there would be 8 opening bands. You read that correctly. EIGHT OPENING BANDS (see show poster). The doors opened at 7 and the first band was to start at 8. With so many bands opening, it was pretty obvious that Loudness would go on late. OK, no big deal. Doug and I pretty much sat in the back of the venue. We got there around 9PM or so and didn’t know how many of the bands had played. Apparently not many since it seemed like we sat through 50 bands. I was told that the openers had to pay to play and it really felt like amateur hour of a
battle of the bands competition. Really, it was brutal. One band from Sweden, Dirty Passion, was apparently on tour with Loudness (wait, that makes NINE opening bands!). While they were about 25 years too late for their Bullet Boys/Warrant-ish type of rock, they were at least solid albeit not even remotely my type of rock. The other bands? PASS. I just couldn’t get into it. There was one group of kids that played who did some 80s metal covers and they were alright. I just wanted to see Loudness.
Each moment that a band finished in the later hours of the night, we would move up into the crowd only to be disappointed that another band was coming on. It was getting later and later. Before I get into Loudness’ actual set, I should describe the venue a bit. Originally this show was scheduled to be held at Backstage Live, a newer San Antonio venue that has been getting some bigger shows and gathering a terrible reputation with every one. I had only been there once 2 years ago for Lizzy Borden. Apparently people had been boycotting shows there. Destruction/Heathen played there last week to around 100 people…in San Antonio. I believe had that been anywhere else down there it would have been a lot more. It was also a Tuesday night but in SA, that generally doesn’t seem to matter. They love metal there like no other city. Last night’s show was moved to Randy’s Ballroom on SA’s west side. The place was huge. It was an old venue, seemingly built in the 70s. Apparently the Sex Pistols player there in 1978. It’s primarily used as a bingo hall now and could easily double as a skating rink. I did like that it had a large area to sit down in. We needed it to get through all the opening acts.
Loudness finally hits the stage around 1AM, maybe 12:45AM. Having seen their recent setlists, it had been about
13 songs long and getting all those songs in an hour was going to be difficult. They hit the stage and opened with Fire of Spirit from their 2008 album Metal Mad. I wasn’t familiar with it but it sounded fine. The band was tight and the new drummer, while he was no Munetaka Higuchi (RIP), he was solid and very competent. One would expect no less from Loudness. They followed up with Hit the Rails, Crazy Nights and Heavy Chains. Some recent stops on the tour got We Could Be Together instead of Heavy Chains (personally I would have preferred to hear We Could Be Together). Of course during Crazy Nights the crowd of maybe 350 people went “crazy”. There were more folks there earlier but it continued to thin out as the night progressed. Minoru’s voice sounded great. We were one person back from the barricade until the end of Heavy Chains and I wanted to move back to hear a better mix. The sound for all of the openers was awful but it sounded great for Loudness.
They had gotten to a couple more songs like In the Mirror, Never Change Your Mind and Shadows of War (Ashes to the Sky) and then something odd happened. It was 1:45AM and the house lights came on. The band looked stunned for a moment and were conversing with each other on stage. The crowd looked perplexed too. After a
few minutes they started playing again and went into Black Star Oblivion (!!!!!!). It was totally odd seeing them playing with the lights on. They discussed a little further and went into a new song, King of Pain and then Crazy Doctor (!!!!!!) and then the shit hit the fan…the club shut down the PA and the band kept playing with just their stage amps. Then…AND THEN…the club yanked their stage power…MID SONG. Granted it was a few minutes after 2PM but c’mon. The band ended up just stopping, never got to play their full set and took it in stride. They stood at the front of the stage and just smiled to the crowd and shook hands and such.
I was blown away by it. After wading through hours of sub-par bands to finally get to the headliner whose set got cut because of a piss poor booking job, it really was a disappointment. The crowd was getting pretty riled up over it all. I heard several drunkards saying, “There’s only 5 cops and a couple hundred of us, let’s tear this place up!” Umm, pass. The show promoter should be bitchslapped over this though. From my account, Loudness got shorted 3 songs. It was disappointing to say the least.
I was very happy to see Loudness again and would surely go if they ever tour the USA again. For a bunch of dudes in their 50s, they were great. They were equally as good as the 2006 show and I enjoyed the setlist even more this time around. Akira’s playing is top notch. He’s one of the best players I have ever seen. Minoru’s voice was really strong and I don’t think they tuned down any of the old songs to help him sing them more easily. Yoshi’s bass playing was solid as always. I love seeing them as they hit the stage looking like tourists…sweat suits, track pants, shorts and sneakers. Very comfortable and they were all smiles all night. A very professional band to say the least and so glad I got to see them again.
I don’t go to SA for shows that often and this experience surely doesn’t drive me to go out of my way to see more down there, although I’m sure I will. Go see them if you get the chance.
Setlist (as I remember it):
- Fire of Spirit
- Hit the Rails
- Crazy Nights
- Heavy Chains
- In the Mirror
- Never Change Your Mind
- Shadows of War (Ashes to the Sky)
- Black Star Oblivion
- King of Pain
- 1/2 of Crazy Doctor
Songs missing from the set: Get Away, Let It Go, SDI.